NM Rail Runner Express Launches Pilot Program to Provide Free Annual Passes for Veterans

(Albuquerque, NM – November 6, 2014) – Just in time for Veterans Day, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express is launching a pilot program that gives veterans with a VHIC (VA Medical ID card an annual pass to ride the train for free! The program starts this Veterans’ Day, Tuesday, November 11th and runs through December 31st of next year.

The Rail Runner initiative is another key link the veterans of our highly rural state”, says Secretary Timothy Hale, NM Department of Veterans’ Services. “The ability for veterans all along the Rail Runner corridor to utilize a variety of regional and community transit systems will enable them to efficiently travel to VA appointments, job interviews, school and training. This is a great example of all levels of government joining forces to meet veteran needs.”

A Veteran can bring their VHIC card to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express Customer Service office at 809 Copper Avenue NW in Downtown Albuquerque, and get their picture taken. Within minutes the Veteran will have his or her own free pass on the Rail Runner. For those who cannot gain easy access to the Rail Runner Customer Service office, there will be a number of planned community events in which eligible veterans can get their pass on site. This pass has been made possible by the ongoing collaborative efforts between the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) and the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (NMDVS), the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS), and the City of Albuquerque.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to serve those who have served us”, says Albuquerque City Councilor Rey Garduño, Chair of the Rio Metro Board. “The Rail Runner provides a 100-mile corridor to connect New Mexico’s veterans to many places they need to go. There are also a number of other transit connections from the many Rail Runner stations that will also get them connected to much needed services, adds Councilor Garduño.

There are a number of other efforts underway aimed at assisting New Mexico’s veterans – especially for those in rural communities throughout the state – including the development of a well-branded easy-to-use website that puts a direct and comprehensive focus on helping veterans connect to services online and in their community. This website, which will be supported by a call center, is being funded by Federal Transportation Administration grant funds. Additionally, NMDVS is providing the support to sustain ongoing staffing and maintenance of the website into the future.  Completion of the “Vet Connect” website is slated for the summer of 2015.

For More Information, Contact: Augusta Meyers, MRCOG Communications Mgr. (505) 239-8612, ameyers@mrcog-nm.gov

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